Saturday, July 10, 2010

“End of Boot Camp” USMC Boot Camp -- Part 15

(credit: unknown)

As much as I hated having to start boot camp over from scratch, it did give me an advantage over all the other recruits. I knew what was going to happen before it happened.

I’d already had most of my injections and managed to stay out of trouble except when Valdez was on duty, then I couldn’t do anything but be in trouble. I was his whipping boy. Everybody in the platoon knew he had singled me out and the other drill instructors knew it also. I know this because when he was off duty they used me in a leadership role, to demonstrate how to do things to the other recruits. But in the eyes of Valdez I could do nothing right. He must have made me do 10 times the calisthenics that everybody else had to do. I’d also estimate that he punched me at least 10-15 times during the course of boot camp.

I was in excellent physical shape when I got to boot camp, but Valdez was making a brute out of me. It seemed like the more he piled it on me, the stronger I got. I eventually reverted to my old safety zone of disassociation that I mastered while being raised by a crazy woman. After a while the man had no effect on me at all. When he came in, I checked out. I began to feel that I was in control, not him.

He could scream at me all he wanted, I wasn’t listening.  His abusive and vile words just beaded up on my face, ran down my body, and collected in a puddle at my feet.

He could punch me, but I wouldn’t react, I couldn’t feel anything. I'd just straighten back up and look right through him like he wasn't there.  My mother could give him a run for his money in the physical abuse department. I already knew how to take pain.

He could make me do calisthenics all day, I wouldn’t quit. By the end of boot camp I'm sure I could out perform him or anybody else in my platoon with ease.

He was just too stupid and self absorbed to realize that I wasn’t really there.

It seemed as if he eventually started to believe that I was squared away, and along with the other DI‘s put me in for my first promotion. He came to believe that I had fantastic self discipline, he told me he‘d never had a recruit survive what he put me through. I'm sure he was mostly patting himself on the back though.  What he did was mistake my ability to take abuse and disassociate, with self discipline.

I actually did get a promotion out of boot camp. Only 6 out of the 60 platoon members got promoted, and thanks to Valdez I got one of the spots. On graduation day he actually had the nerve to congratulate me, and tell me I did a good job. I just turned my back on him and walked away. He had no control over me at this point, so I had no reason or obligation to acknowledge his existence.

Besides, other than the fact that he beat the hell out of me on more than one occasion, and exercised me into the ground every time he saw me,  I won…

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  1. Just read all of your USMC Boot Camp posts.
    They are very vivid and straight forward. I love your writing. Thank you for pointing me in the direction of reading these.

    I have a question about Valdez. Based on these posts it's obvious your feelings on this man..BUT do you think that by recieving this treatment it made you a better Marine? Or helped you later in your time served?

    I have not read the Vietnam stuff yet so I don't know if you address this later. My grandfather was an Army man who fought and had his own "Valdez" and although there were angry feelings later there was almost an odd peace with how strong it ended up making him.

    Just curious :) You are a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading your Vietnam account as well.

    Thank you.

  2. Penny - Thanks for the nice words.
    When it was all said and done, I don't think Valdez had any positive impact on me at all. Usually the target of abuse in USMC bootcamp is a slackard, a goof off, or someone who wasn't
    "squared away." I was none of those things...I was in great shape when I got there, I was already very self disciplined.
    He was just crazy... But, it did make me maybe a little bit, it helped me.
    thanks again!

  3. Yep these stories of yours from your childhood on should be revamped and compiled into a book. You certainly have enough material. I wouldn't do so much to make money (though that would be nice) but rather to make your mark. A type of immortality if you will. A way of saying "I was Here".

  4. Warren - I would like to do that, but I don't know if I could pull it off. Once I get most of it out of my head and out of my notes, maybe I will. I'll need a pro to help me though. Thanks for reading and commenting on all this Warren!

  5. It had to feel a little good to turn and walk away from Valdez on graduation day.

    I read the comments above, your writings would make a great book.

  6. SQ - It felt great. At that point I was wishing he'd still try to pick a fight with me. Thanks!

  7. Pat, I read every word. This writing is so good I can visualize it all. I read alot. In my humble opinion, you could make this life story into a book easily. Of course, it would be as tough going as boot camp seems to have been, but probably safer. How people made it thru that torture without killing the DIs or themselves is beyond me. Great job! Rosemary

  8. Rosemary - Thanks so much for reading and commenting. When people sign up for marine corps bootcamp, many of them are giving themselves a challange. Some make it and some don't. It's a life changing thing. Almost every challange in life isn't as hard if you've already been through it...
    If you like these, you might really like the next series on Vietnam (very little blood and gore). It' up top under the "Vietnam" tab. Thanks again!

  9. Mr. Tillett - Thanks for posting your blog and it makes for very interesting reading. I too was a recruit at Diego in May 1969 (Platoon 1093) and took my fair share of abuse as well and I remember seeing some ganging up by the DI's occasionally but nothing like you mention in your blog. Still I hated everyone of my Drill Instructors but later felt that if I could endure what they dished out, I could endure anything. Like you I hardened up determined not to let them win. It was a defense mechanism we all learned to survive I guess.

  10. GL Hunter - Thanks for positive comment and nice words. I appreciate it. I was amazed that some guys were so unprepared (both physically and mentally) when they got to boot camp.


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